Paleo Zucchini Bread

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I suck at baking. Like really, really suck at baking. I never can seem to get things right. I blame it on the fact that baking is all about being precise. It’s a chemical reaction, and I think I got a C+ at best in chemistry. The best part of being a business major in college was that I could get away with geology as my required science class. The only thing I took away from my professor was his love of ‘A Land Remembered’ by Patrick D. Smith, which is now one of my favorite books. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Florida history.

Luckily paleo baking seems to be something I’m far better at. It’s still not the ‘pinch of this, dash of that’ freedom that cooking gives me, but it seems less hard for me to totally screw things up. I also enjoy paleo baking because it means I can eat baked goods without all of the extra sugar and processed carbs. I’m one of those people who needs to watch my carbs and processed junk I put into my body because it seems to enjoy settling on my stomach. I by no means am trying to ‘eat like a caveman’, and I do still put some lower-fat cream cheese on my paleo zucchini bread because that’s the way God (and my mom) intended zucchini bread to be eaten. As far as my lower-carb-higher-protein lifestyle goes, this just seems to fit right in.

In the two times I’ve made this recipe, I’ve found that using thawed zucchini that you’ve nearly crushed with your bare hands works the best. This is particularly helpful when it’s near the end of summer, and your fridge is overflowing with all of the zucchini that you bought on sale because it was in season and you got tired of grilling, sautéing, and making baked zucchini fries (recipe here). Just run it through the food processor’s grater (or shred by hand with a box grater), bag it up in portions, and toss it in the freezer (next to your stockpile of bananas that you also bought in bulk) till you’re ready to make a bounty of zucchini bread, which to me is a fall treat with summer’s leftovers. Let it thaw, then squeeze as much liquid as you can out to make sure your bread doesn’t come out too wet.

1 ½ c almond flour
1 cup zucchini, shredded and drained of excess water
3 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 ½ tsp baking soda
3 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, add your eggs, honey, banana, and coconut oil and whisk together thoroughly.

4. Add your squeezed zucchini to the wet mixture. Seriously… Squeeze the shit out of it.

5. Fold in the dry ingredients until everything is smooth.

6. Grease a loaf pan and pour the batter in. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

7. Allow the bread to cool before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

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Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Man, being sick sucks. When you’re not running for the nearest roll of toilet paper to wipe your face of snot, you’re gasping for breath because you’re too congested. Sleeping on your side means waking up with one functioning nostril. Everything hurts. The only thing that feels good is your fluffiest sheets and your ass nestled among every last pillow you have on your bed.

Luckily for me, I’m not sick. But my boyfriend is. And yes, I do have a picture of him swallowed in a cocoon of feather duvet and pillows. It’s pretty flippin’ cute. I’ve never seen a boy appreciate 700-thread-count sheets that much, and I’ll save him the emasculation of posting it on here.

Just check my Instagram, in case he ever pisses me off. MWAHAHA.

We finally had our first cold front of the season. It only took till the last week of October for cold-ish air to come barreling through Orlando. My favorite part of living on the third floor of my apartment is being able to leave the windows open for all of the crisp Fall air to come in. And yes, I do consider 67 degrees to fall under the definition of ‘crisp’. We’ve left the windows open all night as well, when it actually dips down to the mid-50’s. It’s quite the treat.

So naturally the third wheel to this sick-boyfriend-cool-weather combination is soup. But not just any soup. For the next 2 months, we’re all obsessed with eating anything orange or belonging to the squash family. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese, and of course everyone’s favorite the Pumpkin Spice latte. Butternut squash soup is among this great and glorious category. I’ve tried my hand several times at creating that lovely, velvety smooth traditional butternut squash soup. You know the one that has just the right amount of sweetness, cinnamon, maybe nutmeg, and some other spices that I can’t seem to figure out and it always leaves me thinking I’m better off just buying it at Crisper’s or Panera Bread or some other place that gets soups right.

Not this time.

I perused Pinterest like I do for some inspiration and I came across a recipe for a Thai take on this classic. When I told the boyfriend, I saw the joy rise in his eyes. Apparently he has a thing for squash soups as well. Here’s my take on this recipe.

Do this!

2 Tbs coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbs red curry paste
4 cups of your favorite broth (meat or veggie)
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2” cubes
1 14 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
Salt & Pepper
Lime for squeezing

1. Warm your coconut oil in a deep pot (the kind you’d cook your pasta in) over medium heat.

2. Add your onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and coat in the oil. Let this cook about 5 minutes, until the onion are translucent.

3. Add your curry paste and ginger and stir to coat your onions. Isn’t that color lovely??

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4. Drop in your chunks of squash, then add about 3 cups of your broth. Everything should be almost submerged. Bring this to medium-high heat and cover. Let it do its thing for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. When done, take it off the heat.

5. Carefully add the contents thus far into a food processor or even a blender. Since the soup is scalding hot, keep the food chute (that place you stick your food in when you’re shredding it) or the hole in the lid of your blender uncovered. If not, the heat will build up and shit will hit the ceiling in the most literal of senses. If you’re worried about being splashed, gently hold a paper towel over the opening. Hit the pulse button a few time to get it started, then let it blend away until you see no lump of squash or pieces of onion floating around.

6. Pour your soup back into your pot and turn the heat back on to medium.

7. Add your can of coconut milk and stir thoroughly. Depending on thick your soup is (most likely depending on how much squash you used) you’ll need to add your last cup of broth. If you’re out of broth, you can thin the soup with some water. No biggie. Heat this through on medium heat.

8. Taste test! Do you need some salt and pepper? More than likely you will! Depending on what broth you use (low-sodium, who-cares-about-sodium) you may need to add some or not at all. Always season soups at the very end.

9. Serve up with wedges of lime to squeeze. The lime brightens up the soup and really highlights the coconut and ginger.

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Sides: Beets with Orange Vinaigrette

I’ve always been a little obsessed with beets. As a kid (and holding a piece of lettuce near me would send me into a fit) I would feast on piles of cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, croutons, and pickled beets on trips to the salad bar. Not mixed together, of course.

Though I still love the beets that come out of jars and cans, I’ve become fond of the fresh beets that you can pick up in the produce section at the grocery store these days. I used to roast them, but then I tried this recipe and really liked how it blended fresh, light ingredients with that vinegar flavor I love with beets so much. This is an adapted Ina Garten recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Sorry Ina, I love you and all, but I can’t be spending $10 on raspberry vinegar. I used balsamic instead.

I won’t lie to you either… If you eat fresh beets, you will poop purple. No joke. Get ready.

You’ll need:

2 lb fresh beets, trimmed
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs orange juice
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup diced red onion
2 large oranges, zested and segmented. Navels are great, and I used some blood oranges

1. Trim the tops off of the beets and boil uncovered in salted water for about an hour, until they are soft.

2. Once the beets are cool enough to handle but still warm, peel and dice into small cubes. Everything will be purple!

Blood Oranges and Beets

Blood Oranges and Beets

3. Mix the beets with the onion, orange segments, olive oil, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Beets with Orange Vinaigrette

Beets with Orange Vinaigrette